House Lawmakers Introduce New Bill to Address Mobile App Privacy

On Thursday, May 9, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), and co-sponsor Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced the Application Privacy, Protection, and Security (APPS) Act of 2013,” (H.R. 1913). The bill, which is aimed at increasing consumer privacy within applications (“apps”) available through smartphones and other mobile devices, retains the provisions included in the discussion draft of the legislation circulated by Rep. Johnson in January 2013.

Among its key provisions, the APPS Act would require app developers to make a privacy statement available to consumers before they purchase an app, obtain consent from consumers before collecting data, and securely maintain the data that they collect. A developer’s privacy statement would have to disclose the categories of personal information collected by the app, and how such information is used, including whether it is shared with any third parties. App developers also would be required to include within their privacy statement a data retention policy that describes how long information is retained, and how consumers can access and seek the removal of such information. Under the bill, the Federal Trade Commission would be tasked with drafting regulations to implement the law, including defining the term personal data,” as well as enforcing such regulations.

The APPS Act is the product of Rep. Johnson’s AppRights initiative, which is a web-based legislative project launched in July 2012 to address the privacy and security of mobile device users, and follows other recent federal and state efforts to enhance privacy protections for mobile app users. For example, we posted last week about the latest developments regarding the California Attorney General’s efforts to require all app developers to include a privacy policy in their mobile app.